Our local Dairy Queen closed for the season on Sunday, having survived their entire year operating during COVID. Their patio seating was roped off all year, yellow “Xs” marked the social distancing spots for the line, the staff adjusted to mask-wearing and for many in line, masks became the norm as well.

As I reflected on the scene, I wondered what it will be like when then re-open in March. (Hopefully, that will be true and the decline in business won’t signal their ultimate closure.) Will our “wardrobe” of masks have expanded as they become a regular part of our daily attire? Will socializing and sitting with friends on the patio once again be considered a safe thing to do? Or will the taped Xs need to be painted on the pavement as a permanent effort to help us dodge this virus?

Every year, the closing of the DQ season is a signal for me that we’re heading into the doldrums. This year it reminded me that just as they are preparing for the winter, so must I. While it’s unknown when the other side of this pandemic will arrive, we all know that it’s not going to be soon. Now is the time to think consciously about what habits and actions bring you moments of joy and develop ways to infuse them into your life to combat the isolating winter.

As an example, I know that I love fresh flowers and instead of treating them as a luxury, this winter I’m considering them a necessary mental health expense. I’m preparing my reading list to have ready for the library runs. I’m regularly checking Goodwill for puzzles and setting appointments to Zoom with one of my sisters every week – all things that make me smile.

It’s always a day of delight and promise when the Dairy Queen re-opens for the season. I want to be ready for when that happens: being healthy, happy and full of hope for what lies ahead. Take steps now so that you are ready to blossom, too.

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